The Chicago Cubs will play their first Spring Training game tomorrow, conveniently rescheduled to night time so I wouldn’t miss it (thanks, Cubs), but there’s actually baseball going on today. Like right now! Kinda.
The Rangers and Royals are playing each other, while the Red Sox (Huskies), Tigers (Fire), and Twins (Golden Gophers) have exhibition games going on. Baseball is back. For real. Ah!
- Now take all that happiness and joy you got from baseball returning to your life and read this headline: MLB was told about the Astros’ system years ago and did nothing…
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) February 21, 2020
- Sigh. According to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who then played for the A’s, the Athletics informed MLB about their experiences with the Astros – and most players in baseball knew, as well – but no investigation was started until Mike Fiers went public in November. The Athletics GM, David Forst, even confirmed that the league knew well before the investigation.
- Worse, it’s Mike Fiers, the guy who did the right thing, who’s receiving death threats for coming forward, which is obviously disgusting and entirely misplaced. And it certainly doesn’t help when a thought-leader/influencer like David Ortiz is out there calling him a snitch:
David Ortiz calls out Astros whistleblower Mike Fiers: "You look like a snitch."
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) February 20, 2020
- I get Ortiz’s point about coming forward earlier, but that’s it. Ortiz is just blindly sticking up for Altuve, who deserves exactly no benefit of the doubt at this point. This whole “stick together, keep your mouth shut” mentality is toxic and bad for baseball. Fiers did the right thing, the Athletics did the right thing. The only people in the wrong are the players/personnel for cheating and the league for not doing anything until it became public. Have some respect for the game you play.
- Two more quick things on the Astros, first … how ugly is this?
You know how whistling was part of the Astros’ sign stealing? Remember when Andrew Heaney threw a big, looping curveball in Houston as a tribute to Tyler Skaggs, his best friend who just died? Anyway, pic.twitter.com/cdMzHBJaN2
— DL (@davelozo) February 21, 2020
- I’m HOPING that it was just a coincidence, or the whistle came from a non-player who just didn’t recognize or understand the significance of that first pitch (honoring Tyler Skaggs). Because … my word is that in bad taste.
- And finally, as if you needed any other evidence that Jim Crane and the Astros couldn’t have cared less about their “apology” press conference:
One MLB executive says he “not shocked” at how poorly #Astros have handled current crisis. Jim Crane was warned about coming storm, urged to gather his players to prepare for industry reaction, media questions. Crane passed on the idea. Said, “it’ll blow over by spring training."
— Bob Klapisch (@BobKlap) February 20, 2020
- Paul Goldschmidt is crucial to the Cardinals chances of defending their NL Central title this season, but he’s got a sore elbow and is only easing into fielding drills, as the team plans to DH him at the start of the spring. Obviously, as a first baseman, the health of Goldschmidt’s elbow isn’t as scary – particularly this early in the year, but it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.
- But even with that said, it’s important to remember that he’s got a bit of a history of starting slowly, so don’t think that a weaker April/May means he’s toast the whole year:
- Sticking with key Cardinal injuries, Miles Mikolas received a platelet rich plasma injection on Tuesday for his sore right forearm, and will not be on the Opening Day roster. With questions surrounding Carlos Martinez and Kwang-Hyun Kim’s positions on the roster (bullpen or rotation), his absence could be felt hard by St. Louis. But according to Mikolas, it might not take that long to return: “If I’m a couple weeks late to the season, I think that’ll be the end of it,” Mikolas said on Thursday. “I’ll be back just like normal.” But as we’ve discussed, an injury right now – even a shorter-term one – will risk keeping him off the field (or at least further away from 100%) for longer than usual, because he’ll still have to do his spring ramp up in April or May instead of February and March.
- The Philly Phanatic will return to the Phillies this season, but he might look a little different than before. Apparently, the team is involved in a lawsuit with two people who were hired to design his look back in the 1970s: “The Phillies purchased rights to the Phanatic in 1984, but federal law allows artists to renegotiate rights to their work after 35 years.” And in 2018, the artists informed the Phillies that they would “seek to wrest the rights to the Phanatic away from the team unless it paid them millions.” LOL. Get yours, artists.
- Outfielder Brennan Davis was MLB.com’s pick for the Cubs top power-hitting prospect. Davis was ranked as Bleacher Nation’s top prospect in our recent re-ranking. And it’s easy to see why: he’s young, he can steal bases, he can play center field, and, apparently, he brings a big stick. More power-hitting prospects at that list there.
- And finally, new gear for fans of all teams (and a chance to win free swag):